Inhuman Swill : Telephone
I've told this story many times, in many ways. This particular version was written for The First Time: First Crime, an evening of readings at Second City's Up Comedy Club in Chicago on April 17, 2013. I read it again at Tuesday Funk #61 on September 3, 2013, and later posted it as an answer on Quora (to the question "What are you banned from? Why?") and as an essay on Medium (where it became an Editor's Pick). As long as it was available for free in those places, I figured it ought to have a home here too. So here it is. Happy Canada Day.

They caught up with me in the men's room of a bus station in Great Falls, Montana.

Now, the fact that "they" were after me might lead you to presume that I was running from the law, that the cops or other authorities were hot on my trail, but that's not the case. My felony was still two months in the future at that point, though I was on the lam.

I was on the lam from the Mormon Church.

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It's getting harder these days
to tell the crazy people from the sane,
what with technology the way it is.

It used to be that talking to yourself
in public was a sure sign of instability,
like wearing a sign that said,
"Steer clear of me, I'm not quite right,
I might be dangerous, if only to myself."

But now we all do it, carry with us
an invisible chorus of voices
in a magic Bluetooth cloud, insistent, demanding
voices clamoring for attention, screening out
the real world around us, making us each
more dangerous than twenty actual crazy people,
a more present threat to public safety than
any potential suicide bomber.
Or at least more annoying.

Thorazine does nothing at all to fix it.

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William Shunn

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Telephone category.

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